December 15, 2022
The New York State County-Wide Shared Services Initiative (CWSSI), enacted in 2017 and amended in 2019, encourages local governments to uncover hundreds of millions of dollars in potential cost savings through government collaboration, cooperation, and the mutual use of resources. The initiative requires the chief elected officer in each county to convene a panel of local leaders (the Shared Service Panel) to develop a plan that identifies opportunities for general purpose local governments, fire districts, fire protection districts, school districts, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), and special improvement districts to share services and save taxpayer dollars. The CWSSI Law encourages local governments to engage in “multiyear planning [with annual amendments] … identifying all potential property tax saving actions and a timeline for their implementation.” A total of $225 million was initially budgeted to meet anticipated matching fund commitments; of this, Nassau County has thus far received $338,900 through shared services programs that generated $867,500 in cumulative property tax savings. For state fiscal year (SFY) 2022-23, the state reappropriated $210.87 million; of this total it projects that $31 million in matching funds will be spent statewide under this program. Matching payments were capped by the state in SFY 2021-22 at 95 percent of the total funded. The cap was removed for SFY 2022-23.
Nassau County’s 2019-20 Shared Services and Taxpayer Savings Plan (2020 Plan), our foundational document for this program, was the result of a wide-reaching planning process that involved surveys and interviews of every chief elected local government leader in the county, often assisted by staff, as well as leaders of interested school districts, BOCES, fire districts, fire protection districts, library districts, special improvement districts, and local government associations. Local government leaders from all sectors of Nassau County government used the results of these surveys and interviews as the basis for focused discussions and to develop a practical plan for significant property tax savings.
The 2020 Plan identified six initiatives that were projected to produce nearly $30 million in recurring property tax savings by 2022 (three additional projects were identified but were not accompanied with property tax savings estimates because they were preliminary proposals that required additional development). The 2020 Plan also included projects that were earlier identified as part of the county’s 2017 Shared Services Plan potential project list, but which had not yet been implemented. The primary proposal on the 2017 list was the consolidation of Nassau County and City of Long Beach wastewater treatment services, which was expected to generate an estimated savings of more than $128 million once completed. We have now confirmed that this project will be funded entirely from federal grant funds. Though savings to Nassau County and the City of Long Beach will exceed $100 million, with county and city property taxes no longer projected for use (or replacement) this project is no longer eligible for matching payments under the state’s Shared Services program. Based upon experience with earlier proposals, and consideration of results from a survey of the leadership of the county’s local governments, which was administered during the summer and fall of 2022 (see Appendix B), the focus of this plan is upon seven priority projects and two additional projects that need further development and are unlikely to generate savings until 2024.
In 2021, the state legislature passed and the governor signed an extension of the CWSSI law requiring shared services plans to be recreated, revised, or updated through December 2024. This statute amended the General Municipal Law to allow shared services plans that cover July 1st through June 30th of earlier fiscal years to be eligible for state matching funding and extended the required Department of State reporting deadline to June 30, 2025. Under the original administration of the Shared Services program, projects proposed in an earlier year could not be included in a following year plan and were not eligible for matching funds. Based in part upon feedback from Nassau County’s reported experience in administering the program during the COVID-19 period, the governor’s office sought to increase its flexibility by allowing projects in earlier plans that had not yet been implemented to be eligible for state matching funds. Though initially removed from the budget, this provision was passed as stand-alone legislation (S8887-A/A10337-A) and signed into law by the governor.